Short, witty feminist kitchen sink drama with an all-male cast.
Because only men have the right to talk about women’s bodies, writer and director Ana Victoria Neves creates a short drama with multifaceted womanhood represented by four separate, but straightforward, characters.
Lisa visits her sister Chelsea at home, checking in on her. Fussing over her, probing into her emotional and physical condition, not mentioning specific concerns. Lisa insists on making some nourishing soup while sharing gossip about their sister-in-law from hell, Jess. Chelsea pushes back and rejects Lisa’s nursing, wanting to be alone. Chelsea’s solitude is interrupted by a series of text messages, brutally and carelessly judgemental while expressing superficial concern, from Jess. Jess is multitasking, distracted by a wine and pedicure session, as she condemns Chelsea’s selfishness. Outraged, Chelsea turns off her phone. Destroying her soothing solo doona time, rambunctious housemate Kim returns from a weekend away down south, enthusiastically congratulating Chelsea on her abortion. Kim launches into a stirring feminist tirade, further exhausting Chelsea, speaking for her and over her and assuming the mantle of spokeswoman for all females.
The contrasting characters each have their own strengths and weaknesses, a refreshing change from a single token “strong female character”. With masculinity undiminished, Maximillian Strzelecki plays Chelsea with sympathetic reflection on her physical malaise and resentment at the “help” offered by her girlfriends. Lisa is played by Sean Crofton, performing traditionally feminine emotional labour and portraying the easy closeness of sisters in emotional care, physical contact and direct speaking in a natural way. Patrick McCarthy’s Jess unfortunately comes across as quite camp as the local nosy gossip, bringing the requisite Fringe audience interaction with entitlement barging through the seats. Strident with feminist manifestos, Isaac “Spike” Powell is loud and proud as Kim, embracing an open sexual appetite and political high ground with vigour.
Clever use of projected texts behind the performance area encapsulates the nature of modern faceless communication, neatly packaged with Jess’ casually distracted disregard for empathy while determined to share strong opinions. The simple set works well to stage the home setting of Chelsea’s recuperation, and the reactions of those around her, without overly dwelling on her actual state of mind.
Feeling like a one-trick gimmick, the short running time leads to over-simplified characterisation that would be simple laziness in an extended piece. Soup is a promising starting point for Neves, and it will be worth watching to see her develop further ideas and performances in future, longer form presentations.
Deadly Entertainment presents
by Ana Victoria Neves
Director Ana Victoria Neves
Venue: The Supper Room | Perth Town Hall, 601 Hay St WA
Dates: 30 January – 4 February 2018
Part of FringeWorld 2018